A delicate trace of morning illuminates the eastern sky, the sun will join us later. I am late for my meeting with the trail. I prefer seclusion offered by dark skies, the opportunity to experience all of morning, to greet the sun on the trail.
Falling into a steady pace, I show little concern for her ability, it is a sign of respect, an acknowledgement of past performance. Her movement suggests contentment, a shared feeling, a feeling created by time on the trail.
Daylight reveals a waning season. Wildflowers are gone, fragmented yellow patches identify winter ready aspen, Scout Falls is but a dry cliff bordering a rusty meadow. Distant remnants of snow are a sporadic reminder of approaching winter. It is life. It is beauty it is nature. It is today and I want to be part of it.
Entering the contours of the Giant Staircase, we climb. Illuminated peaks remind us of elevation and distance remaining. Random fields of rock offer entertainment in the form of small mammals. Pausing from their frenetic harvest the normally shy pikas pose for pictures, then rush to tend their crop.
Pika preparing for a mountain winter
Resting on the move we traverse a high meadow, I assess the climb to the saddle against known distance. Monolithic memories subdue intimidation; the wall will not slow us. Wind gusts over a narrow, exposed trail amplify a suppressed anxiety; I envy the apparent indifference of mountain goats lounging on the edge. I marvel at their ability to survive mountain winters.
Summiting the second highest peak in the Wasatch I feel a sense of accomplishment. My pack, and its contents, reduces the feeling to one of fragility, a slight inferiority. I am but a seasonal intruder in the land of the goat and pika. An intruder in awe of evolution and natures ability to adapt. Gathering my gear, the equipment necessary for my intrusion, I begin my retreat. Leaving those who live in a place I can only visit, I return to the warmth of my home and the comforts of my life.